Stafford Loan Justice

Past is Present

Just skimmed “We Need an Academic New Deal” by Alyssa Bowen and William Horne published at The Nation. Bowen and Horne’s essay is a call for “university workers – graduate students; adjunct, visiting, tenured, and untenured professors; postdoctoral fellows; staff and other campus workers” to “come together to demand a better deal.” *

This article deserves to go viral.

Bowen and Horne propose an “academic new deal,” that includes, but isn’t limited to:

Fully fund the health care and salaries of all higher education workers – contracted or not, faculty, staff, and campus workers – at a living wage indexed to the local cost of living.

Immediately provide student loan forgiveness.

Immediately subsidize student tuition at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Over the years, I’ve argued for systemic change (e.g., forgiveness, right to education, deep changes to capitalization), and in 2008, drafted a letter to Rep. Dianna DeGette (D-CO) outlining a set of loan reforms. (For history’s sake, I contacted former Rep. John Salazar (D-CO) in 2005 with no results, so the letter to the congresswoman was an attempt to put the problem of student loan burden on the table…once again.)

One out of the box suggestion was to institute a Works Progress Administration (WPA) type program for graduates to trade their knowledge, skill, and expertise in trade for student loan reduction and/or dismissal.

Below is the letter in full.


Click to access degette_stafford.pdf

As noted in the letter, I discussed my letter through a DeGette staffer. Nothing was accomplished regarding any of the recommendations, and subsequently, we borrowers, who in numerous instances are also precarious faculty, have endured the band-aid policies of federal student loan “reform.” But the COVID-19 pandemic, as Bowen and Horne observe, have altered the landscape of higher education, and with it, the socioeconomic fates of already marginalized faculty.


*Thanks to Keith Hoeller for posting news of the article to adj-l.

Written by Susan

June 9, 2020 at 8:39 pm